Met apologises for not stopping Clarence Gardens shooting

Drive-by which put four people in hospital could have been avoided if police had responded properly

Friday, 11th February — By Isabelle Stanley

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Clarence Gardens on the Regent’s Park Estate in the aftermath of the shooting

The Met has admitted failings in the run-up to the drive-by shooting in Clarence Gardens in August last year, where a 73-year-old grandmother was shot – including dismissing a report of men driving around with a gun the day before.

Detective Superintendent Caroline Haines said officers were aware of a man driving around with a gun on August 13, but did not think it was a threat to life. She admitted that failure to act meant the suspects were able to drive past a barbecue the next day and shoot four people. As well as the grandmother, a 19-year-old woman, a 17-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were hurt.

In a statement released to the New Journal, Det Supt Haines, apologised for the police response. She said: “The Met received intelligence from Crimestoppers concerning a group of men driving around Camden with a firearm. The information was shared with the borough, however the information was not classified as a threat to life… If it had been correctly classified, measures would have been put in place to mitigate any risk.

She added: “The police response in the run up to the shooting on August 14 2021 fell below what the public should expect from us, and for that I sincerely apologise.

“It is now clear that there should have been a larger police presence in the area in the lead-up to the incident, which perhaps could have prevented the shooting and four people being injured. My thoughts remain with those who were injured in the incident. Colleagues from the Specialist Crime Command are actively working to bring the shooters to justice and have made eight arrests to date. As it is an active investigation, I am somewhat restricted in what I can say.”

On the afternoon of the shooting, the Met responded to reports of a group of 20 people with a machete in the area, but the group ran off when officers arrived. Instead, they spoke to a group who were having a party nearby about the noise.

After leaving, another five further reports of antisocial behaviour were made, in the hours leading up to the shooting. However officers failed to attend due to miscommunications with call handlers.

Det Supt Haines said: “These calls were graded as ‘R’ (Referred) by the call handlers, meaning no police attendance was required. The calls were ‘grouped’ and as a result it meant that the calls after the initial one at 17.05hrs were not sent to the officer in Central North’s operation room, meaning they were unaware that there was ongoing anti-social behaviour in Clarence Gardens.

“If the officers in the operation room were aware of the ongoing anti-social behaviour – together with the firearms intelligence from the day before – it would have triggered the instigation of a risk management plan and signalled some form of positive police action to address and mitigate the developing situation, such as officers attending in uniform to act as a deterrent, or dispersing the group.”

Eight arrests have been made in relation to the shooting and in response to the review of the incident. Armed officers raided the estate in the days afterwards, entering a block in Compton Close. Det Supt Haines said work was continuing with the council.

She added: “We are a learning organisation and we take reports like this extremely seriously so that we can continue to improve and protect the communities we serve. We will never know for sure if the shooting would have been prevented had we done things differently, but I am sorry that our actions prior to the incident were not at the standard you deserve.

“I would like to thank the members of the public for their phone calls on 13 and 14 August 2021. We really do rely on the information you provide to keep Camden safe and I can assure you that any phone call made to police will be dealt in line with our new process taking our learning from this incident.”

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